The Strait Bridge and the 4 great archistars: what Foster, Fuksas, Piano and Libeskind think


By John

Norman Foster, Massimiliano Fuksas, Renzo Piano and Daniel Libeskind: they are the four most famous archistars in the world. What do they think of one of the most challenging, ambitious, controversial and impactful works such as the Messina Strait Bridge? We compared their most recent statements on the subject.

Norman Foster

Sir Norman Foster, in recent days, gave a long interview to the weekly supplement of the Corriere della Sera. Let’s read the passage that interests us: «Foster was part of the design team of the futuristic Millau viaduct, in France, built in 2004. Today, in Italy, we are discussing whether to build the Bridge over the Strait of Messina. We are evaluating with which preconditions to tackle this undertaking. «Well – says Foster -, if you look at the lessons of Millau, it was a competition to build a bridge that combined maximum economy with maximum beauty. And it was completed ahead of schedule, with no injuries, no loss of life, on a lower budget and it proved to be extremely popular and used by people. It had a certain regional influence, it helped transform an area that traditionally was not exactly rich, increasing its tourist profile. It also reduced congestion and pollution, previously there were five-hour queues to cross most villages. From an environmental point of view, with heavy vehicles traveling between Paris and Barcelona, ​​you can scientifically measure the reduction in CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to planting a forest of 40,000 trees. So if you apply those lessons by holding a competition that focuses on design quality, it could be a good project”. And there is a wonderful phrase, which gives the title to the interview: “From my glider I saw the cities of the future. The only constant in life is change”, says one of the most awarded architects in the world, the main exponent of “high-tech” architecture, the man who created the “Norman Foster + Partners” studio, with 647 employed architects and a turnover of between 200 and 209 million dollars, in tenth place in the list of the largest architecture studios in the world, the designer of an endless series of works that have left their mark on the cities where they were built: the Hong Kong International Airport, the Bilbao Metro, the Torre de Collserola in Barcelona, ​​the Millennium Bridge and City Hall in London, the new Reichstag in Berlin, the Luigi Einaudi Campus in Turin, some of the most innovative skyscrapers in the USA such as the Hearst Tower in New York, the aforementioned Millau viaduct, the Florence high-speed train station, Masdar City, a whole new “post-oil city” in the United Arab Emirates.

Massimiliano Fuksas

“The Bridge over the Strait? I thought it had already been done since they built the connection between Denmark and Sweden in Malmoe. All over the world, including Singapore, there are much more complex projects.” These were the statements of Massimiliano Fuksas, when he spoke to the microphones of “L’aria che tira”, the television program broadcast on La7. “We can spend the rest of our lives wondering whether to do it or not, but the Bridge is necessary to unite Italy to Italy, Sicily to Europe,” added the great Roman architect, born in 1944, also the designer of an endless list of architectural works scattered throughout the world. Fuksas, on that occasion, raised an aspect that could be discussed, that of maintenance: in Italy this word never appears, then the infrastructures collapse. A budget for maintenance is never foreseen, it’s a huge problem. The Bridge must be built, not a word more should be said. I don’t understand why it takes 12-14 hours to go to Sicily. We have viaducts, bridges, reinforced concrete works that are 50 years old, it’s a risk.”

Renzo Piano

“Building is magic, walls should not be built, bridges should be built and doing so is beautiful, it is a gesture of peace”. These are the words of Renzo Piano, the most famous Italian architect, who has designed works in all the continents but who has linked his name to his beloved city, Genoa, signing the main architectural attractions of the Ligurian capital (the historic port, the Museo del Mare, the Grande Acquario) and, lastly, the reconstruction of what was the Ponte Morandi, after the tragic collapse.

Daniel Libeskind

Finally, Daniel Libeskind, 78 years old, of Polish origins, naturalized American. His name is linked to the Ponte dello Stretto, because he is the one who designed the futuristic Centro direzionale that should radically transform the destiny of a town like Villa San Giovanni, until now known only because it is a slave, together with Messina, to heavy rubber-tyred traffic, crossed, for decades, by unbearable rivers of trucks that pass through the town center. Libeskind came to Taormina last year and there he gave a real lesson in architecture, in front of an audience of technicians and others. «Many things have changed since then – he declared, referring to the Centro direzionale –, but this is a project of broader scope». And he quoted Heidegger: «The German philosopher said that a bridge is not only a conjunction of a point A with a point B, but it is the essence of humanity. It is a spiritual experience, because it includes all the spiritual experiences that people live while crossing it. It is not just a segment, the Bridge, but everything it can represent in terms of community, it is a place of meeting and socialization”. Both in Sicily and in Calabria “public spaces must be conceived as the essence of being together, of sharing. The Bridge is not a place of passage, but a place to live”.